Access to healthcare is a critical need. In the Social Justice Committee’s house meetings last year, many members raised healthcare as an important concern. A few members have now decided to work with Remote Area Medical USA, and we plan to join their event in Virginia in the first weekend in November. We hope that other Temple members and their friends will join us and we have also contacted Reform and Conservative congregations in Bergen County with a goal of making this trip a major effort on behalf of the Bergen Jewish community.
Remote Area Medical (RAM) is a major nonprofit provider of mobile medical clinics. Its mission is to prevent pain and alleviate suffering by providing free, quality healthcare to those in need. It does this by delivering free dental, vision, and medical services to underserved and uninsured individuals. RAM’s Corps of more than 120,000 Humanitarian Volunteers–licensed dental, vision, medical, and veterinary professionals–have treated more than 740,000 people and 67,000 animals, delivering $120 million worth of free health care services. https://www.ramusa.org/ - See also,https://www.theatlantic.com/
So, why is this is a good project for us? Here are just a few reasons:
- You don't have to be a medical professional to work with them. We may have a few medical people who want to do this but there are many things we can do.
- We can drive to it - Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia - we can caravan or rent vans. We do not have to fly anywhere.
- We can start small, with just a few volunteers going and hope to build momentum within our community for this project.
- We will interact with people not just a building or stuff
- We can do food or supply drives beforehand and bring things with us, for example a book drive
- If any of our b'nai mitzvah children want to participate, we believe there are opportunities, including as part of their mitzvah projects. We can also discuss this with our younger school children.
This is how RAM describes a volunteer's typical day:
- A typical clinic day kicks off between 5:10am and 5:40am, and ends anywhere from 4-6pm.
- The final day of the clinic will wrap up between noon and 3pm, followed by a final breakdown of equipment that finishes around 5pm.
- Your food while at the clinic will be provided, so don’t sweat having to prepare breakfast and lunch, we’ve got it covered.
- Every clinic is different, so you will receive more detailed information once you register for a clinic.
We are now working with RAMUSA's volunteer coordinator. We have chosen the program in Gloucester, VA (near Williamsburg), which is about 6.5 hours from here and the program is Nov. 3-4, meaning we'd be away at least Friday, Nov 2 - Monday, Nov. 5.
In addition to what is on the website, RAMUSA has told us:
- The day before the clinic itself is set-up. People can help do the set-up in addition to the actual clinic work. For Gloucester, that would mean getting to the town on Thursday to help set-up on Friday. You can volunteer for just one day if that is your preference but that is a lot of driving for one day of volunteering.
- Housing arrangements are on our own, and it would be inappropriate for us to fundraise to pay for this. Hotels often provide discounts but we have no information yet about November. Sharing a room halves the price per room as well. A very quick check shows that hotels vary from $56-126/night and there is also AirBnB.
- They typically get about 150 non-medical volunteers per event - you can work just one day if you prefer. Slots fill up quickly
- She will set up a separate group for us so she knows we are together. That will help on being waitlisted. But we still need to register individually on the website so that we sign necessary forms.
- Assignments are given out day of event, based on people's capabilities and interests.
We are very excited about this trip, and hope you will join us. If you have questions, please contact Nilene Evans Chase by cell or email.